The temperature sensitivity of soil organic carbon decomposition is greater in subsoil than in topsoil during laboratory incubation
OPEN Scientific reports | 14 Jul 2017
D Yan, J Li, J Pei, J Cui, M Nie and C Fang
The turnover of soil organic carbon (SOC) in cropland plays an important role in terrestrial carbon cycling, but little is known about the temperature sensitivity (Q 10) of SOC decomposition below the topsoil layer of arable soil. Here, samples of topsoil (0-20 cm) and subsoil (20-40 cm) layers were obtained from paddy fields and upland croplands in two regions of China. Using a sequential temperature changing method, soil respiration rates were calculated at different temperatures (8 °C to 28 °C) and fitted to an exponential equation to estimate Q 10 values. The average SOC decomposition rate was 59% to 282% higher in the topsoil than in the subsoil layer because of higher labile carbon levels in the topsoil. However, Q 10 values in the topsoil layer (5.29 ± 1.47) were significantly lower than those in the subsoil layer (7.52 ± 1.84). The pattern of Q 10 values between the topsoil and subsoil was significantly negative to labile carbon content, which is consistent with the carbon quality-temperature hypothesis. These results suggest that the high temperature sensitivity of SOC decomposition in the subsoil layer needs to be considered in soil C models to better predict the responses of agricultural SOC pools to global warming.
* Data courtesy of Altmetric.com